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The Undernutrition Situation of School-age Children in Nigeria: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 8 ]


Gideon O. Iheme *   Pages 826 - 832 ( 7 )


Background: Under-nutrition in school-age children has proven to be responsible for poor academic performance as well as declined work capacity and poor health/reproductive function later in life. Nutritional assessment is key to monitoring the effectiveness of intervention programs aimed at reducing under-nutrition. Yet, there is a gross absence of national data on the nutritional status of school-age children.

Objective: This study was designed to pool existing recent data on anthropometrically determined under-nutrition prevalence of school-age children and provide a clear picture of the regional and national malnutrition situation of school-age children in Nigeria.

Methods: Published studies on the anthropometric status of school-age children in Nigeria from 2005 to 2019 were reviewed. Eligible studies were those that used the acceptable international growth standards. A total of 27 articles that assessed 17,820 school-age children met the inclusion criteria.

Results: Results showed that 37.9% of studies had adopted the WHO 2007 growth reference. The overall pooled stunting, underweight, and wasting/thinness prevalence of school-age children in Nigeria are 25.5+20.4%, 24.4+18.8%, 20.6+17.4%, respectively. More than half of the studies had their under-nutrition prevalence above the public health significance thresholds. Stunting (53.2%) and underweight (36.9%) were most prominent in the North West region, while the South Southern part of Nigeria had the highest prevalence of acute malnutrition (39.5%).

Conclusion: The study suggests that the inclusion of school-age children in national nutrition surveys and scale-up of intervention programs will reduce this high under-nutrition prevalence.


Anthropometry, under-nutrition, prevalence, school-age children, nigeria, growth standards.


Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, P.M.B. 7267 Umuahia, Abia State

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